The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

September 17, 2012

Joplin City Council to review proposed budget in series of meetings this week

The Joplin City Council will meet three times this week to look at the expenditures proposed in the budget and to hear additional requests.

The meetings are set for 5:45 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

City Manager Mark Rohr proposes a $192 million budget with expenditures of $114.9 million, up from about $87 million in the current year’s budget. There is about $77 million in proposed spending on capital projects, some of them related to Joplin’s recovery from the disastrous 2011 tornado. The bulk of the latter is related to street work linked to the city’s sales taxes, including the capital projects sales tax. The city manager also proposes making a $1 million lump-sum contribution to the ailing Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund.

Several funding requests are to be heard.

The governing board of the Joplin Museum Complex will ask for a 10 percent increase in funding to cover increased operating expenses. The board has submitted a request for $196,012, up from $178,193.

The Discover Downtown Alliance will ask for $50,000. The organization puts on the Third Thursday events held downtown as well as other activities.

The council had previously granted occasional funding to the downtown organization but voted in January 2011 to reduce funding to both Discover Downtown and the nature center by 20 percent for four years beginning in 2012. The reasons cited were that the city does not maintain a fund for supporting nonprofit organizations except for those designated from Community Development block grant funds and grants from the Convention and Visitors Bureau for events. The council decided it had to scale back funding nonprofits because it had been receiving a number of requests from agencies that are not part of city operations.

Another request to be heard will be presented by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber will ask for $280,000 in funding for the Joplin Regional Prosperity Initiative and $35,000 for the Washington Coalition.

The Joplin Regional Prosperity Initiative is an economic development effort that began in 2010. The chamber, the Joplin Business and Industrial Development Corp., and the Southwest Missouri Development Alliance all participate in the effort to bring jobs to the area.

The Washington Coalition is a lobbying effort to help secure federal funding for the Joplin area. The city and chamber partners in the effort along with the Joplin School District, Missouri Southern State University and Jasper County.

Both of the chamber’s funding requests are for the same amount as the city granted last year.

City employees, through the General Employees Association, will ask that the council give formal approval to a new pay plan the council agreed earlier to adopt. The plan awards raises based on competency and performance rather than longevity.

Employees also ask that the city offer Aflac insurance as a supplement. There is no cost to the city. City employees do not currently have any insurance for short-term disability.

City employees also are requesting an additional holiday, asking the council to authorize a city holiday on Martin Luther King Day. City employees receive eight holidays and two floating holidays. Presidents’ Day was added in 2006.

Requests by firefighters, made on behalf of them by Local No. 2618, the International Association of Firefighters, Local No. 2618, will be heard.

The firefighters are asking for an increase in starting pay and in ranges of pay, though the city is working on adopting a new pay plan that the council will consider adopting in the budget.

The firefighters union also is asking for an additional holiday and for the city to increase the amount of days that can be accrued over time. The firefighters also are asking for additional staffing at fire stations where the fire chief has instituted a two-person squad to respond to medical calls. The city manager will recommend denial of the request because of the cost of added staffing.

Firefighters have made several other requests related to staffing and insurance.

On agenda

The council will discuss whether to institute a centralized purchasing system.


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